Health News

North Platte High School students may have been exposed to pertussis, school officials said in an email to parents Friday.

The email from Principal Scott Siegel included a letter from West Central District Health Department that said exposure may have occurred between Aug. 26 and Sept. 14.

According to the letter, the incubation period for pertussis, also called whooping cough, is seven to 10 days. It is an infection that affects the airways and can easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

Initially appearing to be a common cold, the illness progresses to a severe cough that last for weeks or months.

As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms may appear, according to the health department:

» Fits rapid coughing, followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound.

» Vomiting during or after coughing fits.

» Exhaustion after coughing fits.

Parents should contact their health provider immediately if a child is showing any of these symptoms.

Anyone can get pertussis, but it can be very dangerous for babies and people with weakened immune systems, the health department said.

The letter urged parents to make sure their family’s vaccinations are up to date. Protection from the childhood vaccine DTaP decreases over time, and older children and adults should get a booster shot, called Tdap. Individuals who need a Tdap shot can contact their doctor or call the health department at 308-221-6831 to set up an appointment.

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